The Maniq Legacy: Unveiling the Ancient African Roots of a Thai Ethnic Group
By United States Of Africa on Facebook
Mani people also known as Maniq people is part of the ancient group of African ancestry in Thailand and the only Negrito people who speak Maniq also referred as Tonga,Kensiu or Mos Language.
In 1920 the Thai negrito part of Mani were grouped into groups such as Trang Mani,Saturn Mani and other Negritos in Malaysia such as Semang,Meni,Kensilu and Jehai.
According to Mani History,they are the original homo sapiens that travelled from Africa and settled in Thailand many years ago,they moved with other Ancient African groups such as Andamanese of India and Aetas of Philippines,Semangs of Malaysia to their present day.
Anthropologists have come to believe that the modern Negritos represent the first human group to have arrived in Southeast Asia region,after them followed by Veddoids in a second wave ,found them having lived for hundreds of years before their arrival.
Andamanese Negritos who migrated during same period have been living in isolation for at least 30,000 or possibly 60,000 years.
Although the Maniq population stands at around 300 individuals, they are further divided into several distinct clans, each contributing to the rich tapestry of their collective identity. Yet, their journey has not been without hardships. In a troubling era of the past, some Malaysian sultans and rulers of Thailand’s southern provinces regarded the Negrito slaves, including the Maniq, as curious novelties to be kept in their yards—an unfortunate symbol of a misguided sense of prestige.
However, glimmers of change emerged in the early 20th century when King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) embarked on a visit to the southern regions of Thailand. During this historical journey, he encountered the Semang people, another Negrito group. In 1906, a Semang orphan boy named Khanung was taken to the royal court and embraced as the ruler’s adoptive son. This significant event marked the beginning of the royal court’s patronage towards the Semang people, reflecting a newfound appreciation for their culture and a step towards rectifying the historical injustices faced by Negrito communities.
With this legacy in mind, the Maniq persist in their pursuit of cultural recognition and equality. Their story illuminates the importance of honoring and preserving the unique heritage of indigenous communities, while promoting understanding and respect among all people.